Tuesday, February 08, 2005

My Top Ten Probably Un-PC Hero Gestures

There are certain things – little and big – that are pretty much guaranteed to make me melt when a hero does them. In a book, in the movies, on a television program. In real life. A lot of these things are un-PC by today’s standards or would set the women’s movement back a couple thousand years, and I could be run out of town on a rail for admitting that I like them so much. I don’t care. It’s a fantasy world, so I can like what I like.

I fully confess that I have a weakness for take-charge alpha heroes and rescue situations (in fact, this is the very topic of tomorrow's blog). The damsel in distress with her knight in shining armor and all of that. So much of what I love to see a man do echoes some form of that scenario. I'm sure that some of these things won't be appreciated by those who favor a quieter, gentler love story, and that's cool. To each his own.

Here’s my list, along with some examples from the movies, of what makes me weak in the knees:

1. When a man takes off his coat and gives it to a woman. Palmer Joss (Matthew McConaughey) giving his coat to Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) in Contact. *sigh*

2. When a man places his hand on the small of a woman’s back to guide her somewhere. All right, I don’t have a specific example of this, but I love it when I see it.

3. When a man instinctively steps forward when a woman is threatened in any way. Bonus if he puts himself between her and danger. A good one for this is in The Princess Bride, when Wesley (Cary Elwes) steps in front of Buttercup (Robin Wright Penn) when they are confronted by Prince Humperdink.

4. When a man wants a woman so badly, he sweeps items off the nearest flat surface – files off a desk, dishes off a table. Think Crash and Annie (Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon) in the kitchen in the movie Bull Durham. Spilled cornflakes never looked so good.

5. A true classic – the man literally sweeping a woman off her feet. And the textbook example: Zack (Richard Gere) sweeping Paula (Debra Winger) off her feet and carrying her out of the paper factory at the end of An Officer and A Gentleman.

6. A distraught man keeping a bedside vigil beside the woman he loves. My all time favorite: in Sense and Sensibilities, when Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman) tells Elinor Dashwood (Emma Thompson) to “give me an occupation or I shall run mad” in response to the near-death state of Marianne Dashwood (Kate Winslet).

7. When a man ignores the woman’s feeble protests and kisses her anyway, to the relief of both (and I’m not talking forced seduction here). Two good examples: Hans Solo (Harrison Ford) kissing a protesting Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Jack (George Clooney) kissing a protesting Melanie (Michelle Pfeiffer) at the end of One Fine Day.

8. When a man is more affected by a woman than he realizes and he isn’t able to control his reaction. One of my favorite on-screen kisses demonstrates this in Some Kind of Wonderful, when Keith (Eric Stoltz) kisses best friend Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) and finds it affects him in ways he never imagined. Benjamin (Matthew McConaughey) losing his cool after he kisses Andie (Kate Hudson) and forgetting his resolve to go slow, instead zeroing in for some more in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

9. The Look. And honestly, this is one that only works in the movies or television because it has to be seen to be appreciated. Plus all due props have to be given to the fine actors able to pull it off so effectively. I’m talking about Looks such as those given:
* by Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth) to Elizabeth Bennet (Jennifer Ehle) in Pride and Prejudice
* by Georges (Gerard Depardieu) to Brontë (Andie MacDowell) at the end of Green Card
* by Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) to Donna Moss (Jenna Malone) both before she goes into surgery and after she awakens in The West Wing Season 6 episode NSF Thurmont.

10. Any time a man performs some extraordinary physical feat to reach a heroine in distress. Jack T. Colton (Michael Douglas) climbing the wall to reach Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) in Romancing the Stone or Robin Hood (Kevin Costner) crashing through the door to reach Maid Marian (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

11. When the hero risks his own life to be with or save the heroine. Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) staying with the handcuffed Annie (Sandra Bullock) as their subway train heads toward a dead end in Speed. Titanic’s Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) struggling in the frigid waters of the north Atlantic while Rose (Kate Winslet) floats atop a door. Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis) entering the Huron camp, offering his life in exchange for Cora’s (Madeleine Stowe) after telling her that he would find her no matter how long it took or how far he had to go, in Last of the Mohicans.

OK, a little sidebar…did you happen to notice how many romantic heroes are named Jack? I’m just saying…

And yes, I said ten things but I’ve listed eleven. Got carried away, I guess.

I need to go now. I have about a dozen movies that I’m just itching to watch.


Anonymous said...

What a great list, Lynn!!


Sela Carsen said...

Awesome list and I am all over #1. Cathy Mann just did that in her online read at eHq and I melted.

Anonymous said...

LOTM has got to be one of the hottest movies ever made.

Too bad there's not more like that one out there to watch.

Lots of testosterone stuff for the guys--war, fighting, etc.

Lots of stuff for the chicks--eye candy, romance, etc.

Yeah, we need more movies like that.